Nicholas de Genova

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Nicholas De Genova
Born 1968 (age 48–49)
Fields Anthropology, ethnic studies
Institutions Stanford University
Columbia University
University of Bern
University of Amsterdam
King's College London
Alma mater University of Chicago

Nicholas de Genova was a lecturer of human geography at King's College London.[1]

He held the Swiss Chair in Mobility Studies during the Fall semester of 2009 as a visiting professor at the Institute of Social Anthropology at the University of Bern in Switzerland.[2] Previously, he was assistant professor of anthropology and Latino Studies at Columbia University from 2000 to 2009.[3] His research centers primarily on the experience of Mexican-Americans in both Mexico and the United States, especially the transnational urban and conceptual spaces they inhabit. He is also concerned with the methodological problems of anthropology.

De Genova received his BA and PhD in anthropology from the University of Chicago. Prior to his time at Columbia, he served as a visiting professor at Stanford University.

He is the author of Working the Boundaries: Race, Space, and "Illegality" in Mexican Chicago (2005), and co-author of Latino Crossings: Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, and the Politics of Race and Citizenship (2003). He is also the co-editor of The Deportation Regime: Sovereignty, Space, and the Freedom of Movement (2010) and the editor of Racial (Trans)Formations: Latinos and Asians Remaking the United States (2006).

"A Million Mogadishus" controversy[edit]

De Genova briefly rose to notoriety for a statement he made during a faculty teach-in on March 26, 2003, protesting the impending Iraq War. De Genova said that he hoped U.S. soldiers would experience "a million Mogadishus," a reference to the bloody losses U.S. troops suffered in the Battle of Mogadishu in 1993. He also stated that “U.S. patriotism is inseparable from imperial warfare and white supremacy" and that "The only true heroes are those who find ways to defeat the U.S. military."[4][5][6][7]


De Genova's comments drew sharp criticism from a number of sources:

  • Historian Alan Brinkley, who was also at the teach-in, sharply criticized De Genova, stating that: "I was appalled by what he said, and ashamed to be on the same platform with him. I certainly defend his right to say whatever he wishes, but the rest of us have an equal right to disassociate ourselves from his abhorrent remarks."[8]
  • Professor Eric Foner, who helped organize the teach-in, stated that "Professor De Genova's speech did not represent the views of the organizers. I personally found it quite reprehensible." and that "The antiwar movement does not desire the death of American soldiers. We do not accept his view of what it means to be a patriot. I began my talk, which came later, by repudiating his definition of patriotism, saying the teach-in was a patriotic act, that I believe patriots are those who seek to improve their country."
  • Lee C. Bollinger, the president of Columbia University, while stating that "Under well-established principles of the First Amendment, this is within a person's right to free speech" also stated that "Not for a second, however, does that insulate it from criticism. I am shocked that someone would make such statements. I am especially saddened for the families of those whose lives are now at risk."[9][10]
  • Arizona Congressman J. D. Hayworth wrote that "De Genova's comments are not only seditious, they are racist. They bring shame not only on him, but also on one of America's great institutions of higher learning." Haywoth also submitted a letter, signed by 103 Congressmen, to Columbia President Lee Bollinger urging him to fire De Genova. Hayworth added that "the issue is not whether De Genova has the right to make idiotic and hateful comments - he surely does - but whether he has the right to a job teaching at Columbia University after making such comments."[11][12][13]

At a subsequent student rally at Columbia to support U.S. soldiers in Iraq, demonstrators and speakers sharply criticizied De Genova.[14] The Chronicle of Higher Education subsequently dubbed De Genova as "The most hated professor in America."[5]

The U.S. Military Veterans of Columbia University wrote a letter addressed to Columbia University President Lee Bollinger stating that De Genova's comments were "unacceptable" and demonstrated "his contempt and disregard for human life," and calling on the University to "issue an official condemnation of Professor De Genova’s comments and issue him a letter of reprimand or similar administrative punishment."[15] De Genova later stated that Bollinger "has set himself up as an apologist of war crime and apartheid,” and called upon Bollinger to resign.[16]

This was not the only time De Genova had made controversial remarks. At a Columbia teach-in he told students, “The heritage of the Holocaust belongs to the Palestinian people. The State of Israel has no claim to the heritage of the Holocaust. The heritage of the oppressed belongs to the oppressed, not the oppressor.”[8][12][17]

Response from De Genova[edit]

In a subsequent letter to Columbia Spectator, De Genova wrote that "imperialism and white supremacy have been constitutive of U.S. nation-state formation and U.S. nationalism" and called for "repudiating all forms of U.S. patriotism" and urged "the defeat of the U.S. war machine." He also stated that "my rejection of U.S. nationalism is an appeal to liberate our own political imaginations such that we might usher in a radically different world in which we will not remain the prisoners of U.S. global domination."[18]

Current Status[edit]

De Genova is currently writing a book on free speech during wartime in which he will examine the context in which he made his statements regarding the war as well as the pressure he came under in their aftermath.[19]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Move: Mobility Research Swiss Chair of Mobility Studies: Nicholas De Genova.
  3. ^
  4. ^ Ron Howell, "Radicals Speak Out At Columbia ‘Teach-In,’" NewsDay, March 27, 2003.
  5. ^ a b The Most Hated Professor in America by Thomas Bartlett, April 18, 2003, Chronicle of Higher Education (reprinted here). (original article available here [1] (subscription required)
  6. ^ Professor calls for 'million more Mogadishus', CNN, March 28, 2003.
  7. ^ Stir Continues Over Columbia Professor's Comments by Catherine Donaldson-Evans (contributions by Melanie Schuman), Fox News, April 2, 2003.
  8. ^ a b Professor Mogadishu by Matthew Continetti, National Review Online, March 31, 2003.
  9. ^ At Columbia, Call for Death of U.S. Forces Is Denounced By Tamar Lewin, The New York Times, March 29, 2003.
  10. ^ President Bollinger's Recent Statement on Assistant Professor De Genova's Comments by Lee Bollinger, Columbia News, (, April 3, 2003.
  11. ^ Mouthy professor should be fired by J.D. Hayworth, The Arizona Republic, April 14, 2003.
  12. ^ a b Hate Speech at Columbia is Academic by U.S. Congressman J.D. Hayworth, Center for Individual Freedom, April 10, 2003.
  13. ^ University resists lawmakers' call to fire antiwar instructor by Phil Hirschkorn, CNN, April 8, 2003.
  14. ^ Student Troop Rally Columbia Event Rips Anti-War Prof by David Fried, (New York) Daily News, April 3rd, 2003.
  15. ^ MilVets response to Prof De Genova, Apr 2003.
  16. ^ "Coalition Rallies For Gaza," Columbia Daily Spectator, Jan. 28, 2009
  17. ^ Columbia Has Come To Stand For Terrorism, Genocide by Herb Denenberg, The Advocate (reprinted in The Bulletin), January 20, 2009.
  18. ^ Letter to the Editor by Nioolas De Genova, Columbia Spectator, March 27, 2003. (reprinted in The History News Network).
  19. ^

External links[edit]